Back in the good ol’ days, when there was a new site, or even new pages, developers would manually enter the new site info to a search engine via a submission form. Not only was that time consuming, and an easy way to miss content, it was easy for spammers and hackers to sneak their way into search results pages. Fast forward to today, and we can use tools like Google Search Console and XML sitemaps to achieve those same results. And best of all – more effectively.
The easiest way to make a sitemap, at least for a WordPress site, is to use the Yoast SEO plugin. After installing the plugin, you can generate the sitemap in a few clicks. One of the great things with a Yoast sitemap, is that it includes the date that the individual page or post was last updated. This helps to give Google as much data as possible to crawl your site as often as needed or possible. If you add a new section of content or pages, the sitemap will be updated automatically.
You can also submit multiple sitemaps to Google Search Console. For example, if you have an active blog, you can submit one sitemap for the pages on your site, and a second that lists your blog posts. A sitemap is limited to 50,000 URLs (such as domainname.com/page-name or domainname.com/blog/great-article), so if you have a larger site it would be beneficial to split pages and posts into separate sitemaps. While we don’t have 50,000 URLs on the Full Scope Creative website, we still split our sitemaps that are submitted to Google by pages and blog posts.
When I talk to clients about sitemaps, one of the questions I often hear is “Does my site really need a sitemap?” Google does give some guidelines for which sites should use one based on site size, size of site archive, and how recently the site was published. To keep it simple, I would say that if your goal is to be found in a Google search, your site is definitely in need of an XML sitemap that can be linked to Google Search Console.
What used to take time and lead to possible mistakes, we can today use an XML sitemap for. Gone are the days of needing to manually enter new sites and pages to search engines. While there are times I’d love to go back to “the good ol’ days,” this is not one of them.